Thursday, January 28, 2010

War Crimes


War Crimes

It's been suggested more than once that the only reason I'm so passionate about having the Bush Administration charged with war crimes is because I'm a liberal, and therefore, harbor some sort of deep-seated hatred for George Bush. But that's not true. The fact is, I neither hate George Bush, nor any other conservative. I'm a progressive, not an ideologue, so I have no ideological motive to see any adversity brought into Bush's life, or anyone elses. My passion stems from the fact that because I am progressive, I have a progressive's lust for justice.

As I've mentioned in previous articles, progressives have but one guiding philosophy, one that entails the primacy of humanity, justice for ALL, and the search for truth - wherever that truth may lead, and regardless to whose ox is gored as a result. It's just happens that in this case, the ox that must be gored is in our own backyard.

But in today's political environment, I can certainly understand how people might feel the way they do - especially conservatives.  It is far from lost on me that many of those who claim to be progressives are actually quite partisan - they're ideologues. They view politics from the perspective of a sports fan - "it's our team against theirs, and the more pain their team sustains, the better we like it."

But I want to assure you that's not the case here. I'm looking at this situation purely from the perspective of what is just - and what is just in this case, is for Bush, Cheney, and their cohorts be held strictly accountable for their criminal conduct in Iraq - and I sincerely hope that once I've laid out my case that even the most cynical of you will understand my point of view - even if you disagree with it.

Let us go back to what we were feeling during Nine-Eleven for a moment. Think about how much horror and pain we went through as we witnessed three thousand of our citizens being brutally murdered. It was such a traumatic experience that now, close to a decade later, we're still traumatized by it. It seems like it only happened yesterday. 

But we've never once stopped to consider that if just that one day could be so traumatizing to the American psyche, what it must be like for the Iraqis who have been forced to watch hundreds of thousands of their people killed, and who have had to face the horror of a Nine-Eleven every day of their lives for the past seven years.  The horror that we've brought upon the Iraqi people goes far beyond what can be express here in words. The injustice that we've perpetrated on the Iraqis is bruatally unconscionable - and these people did absolutely nothing to us.

Just think of the pure hell they've had to go through just to try to protect their children in a Nine-eleven-like environment everyday for seven years; never knowing when something - anything - might explode tearing to shreds the little bodies of the children that mean more than anything else in the world to them.

Imagine what it would be like to have some country come over here and kill hundreds of thousands of Americans (millions in order to have the impact we've had on Iraq).  Then later, having that country say, "You know, now that we've thought about it, we shouldn't have done this. It was a mistake. But what the hell - what's done is done, so we need to look forward."

And even as they speak of "moving forward," you're thinking of the past - of happier times.  You think of your mother's smile, your father's laugh, the hopes and dreams of your beautiful young sister, and how goofy your silly little brother could be.  But now, they're all now gone. You're the only one left - so far.

Would you be willing to accept a simple apology? I don't think so. Well, that's what the United states is trying to give the Iraqi people in place of  justice - at least, President Obama is - Dick Cheney's only regret seems to be that he didn't torture enough of them.

For the U.S. to think it can just casually walk away from committing that kind of atrocity to hundreds of thousands of families, then simply say, "We're sorry for what happened, but now's the time to look forward - forward, but without any accountability - speaks volumes about American arrogance, who we are as a people, and why people want to kill us.

President Obama spoke of "change."  But what could he possibly be thinking, if this represents change?  What kind of change could he possibly be speaking of where politics is more important than the horror we've committed? Doesn't he realize that if we don't bring the people responsible for the atrocities in Iraq to justice America will never be safe again?   And  beyond that, the U.S. will never be able to look the world in the eye and claim to be a nation that believes in justice, or the rule of law, ever again.

And it's not only what we've done that's so horrible, the cynical, greedy, and corrupt motives behind our actions was almost as bad as the act itself - and that corruption of the American soul still walks among us.  We haven't learned a thing.  Dick Cheney claims that terrorists want to kill us because they're jealous of our freedom. That's complete bullshit. They want to kill us because we won't mind our own business, and we keep trying to steal their oil.

America has got to learn two things: First, if you keep slapping your neighbor and picking his flowers, eventually he's going to hit you back. We may think that we're "exceptional," but that doesn't give us the innate right to abuse others with impunity.  And secondly, if you break into your neighbor's home and wipe out his family, then you're caught with a pocketful of his valuables, trying to plead self-defense won't fly. Any court in the world will convict you of being a murderer and a thief.

We haven't executed one criminal in the history of America whose crimes even approached the seriousness of the crimes committed by Bush and Cheney - and many of those crimes were against our own troops. The crimes committed by Dick Cheney makes Tookie Williams look like a choirboy. Yet, now we want to simply walk away and expect the world to believe that America stands for justice? I don't think so.

As long as we continue to think the rest of the world is beneath us, and the lives of others aren't as valuable as our own, we'll never be just, we'll never be safe, and we'll continue to move farther away from what it means to be Americans:


It's scary how easily the American people can be manipulated to the point that they find the death of entire families a hoot; how we can sit in front of the tv set with chilli dogs and fries and cheer on the death of others like we're watching the Super Bowl. And it's a tribute to psychosis how America can unleash mass destruction in "an attempt to prevent mass destruction," in the name of God.

Can't you see that many of "those Towel-Heads" are children just like your own? You didn't really think the U.S. could unleash destruction like we saw and not kill children did you? Rumsfeld said, "Well, shit happens." But shit doesn't just happen--you allowed it to happen. You made it happen. You cheered it on! Consider that as the children bleed and you're admiring the beauty of "Shock and Awe."

Think about your own children as "collateral damage." Think about them screaming in horror while you're helplessly watching their limbs being blown off. Think about them desperately reaching out to you for comfort as life slowly drains from their tiny bodies. Think about foreign boots kicking down your front door, then strangers walking through your home systematically killing every man, woman and child. Picture the last sight that you ever see on this Earth is of your sweet little six year old daughter, with her brains spilling from her tiny little head. Think about that picture, America--then ask yourself, who's really the terrorist?

Where has America gone? Who's left to stand up for justice and humanity? You say, God Bless America? You'd have to be a fool to think God is gonna bless America after what we've done--for choosing Standard Oil over Justice, and Exxon over God himself. In God we trust? How dare you blame this atrocity on God! It is in Bush you trust:

You trust Bush that God has entrusted you to blow off Iraqi arms and wrap them around you to enable them to embrace your benevolence. And you trust Bush that you must lovingly pluck out Iraqi eyes to enable them to see the wisdom of viewing the world through your own. And you trust Bush that in the name of all that is good you must slaughter their children in a desperate attempt to provide them with a better future. You also trust Bush that you must rape their land and steal their wealth in order to allow them to choose the government of their choosing-- (so long as they choose the government that Bush chooses for them to choose). And you trust Bush that you do all this in the name of American charity.

You also trust Bush that God will bless America--but this Ain't America. America is the land of the free, and home of the brave, the land of just souls who freed their slaves. No, this is not America, this is Bushland-the land of small pox infected blankets; the land of public lynchings and church-place bombings; the land of imprisoned Japanese-Americans, and corporate murderers.

Yeah, God Bless Bushland!
The land of the free and home of the slave; the land of My Lai, and Calley's mass grave.
And you trust that God will bless Bushland?

Well trust this -You are blind, my friend.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

The Massachusetts Disaster


The Massachusetts Disaster

I find myself quoting my own material quite a bit here lately, not because I'm trying to prove myself a prophet or some sort of self-proclaimed intellectual giant, but just to prove that if one looks at what's actually happening in America instead of simply what one wants to see, or what is politically comfortable, the facts are clear - America is waste deep in a class war, and the poor and middle class are losing badly.

The reason that we're losing so badly is that the corporate interests in this country are keeping us distracted by deluding us into thinking we're still fighting the last war - race.  But the fact is, corporations don't give a damn about race. As I've mentioned before, in this new economy of the new world order, where corporate competitors all over the world have people working for pennies a day, corporations can't afford the luxury of being concerned about race. All they care about is making money - and that means doing whatever they have to do to degrade the living standards of an expensive U.S. middle class.

So the fact is, if you're White, poor, and uneducated (and with the rapid rise in the cost of education, that'll soon include most of you), you're considered latter-day "coons." And if we don't all wake up soon, The Aryan Brotherhood, Black Nationalists, and Mexican Mafia are going to be FORCED to come together, because we'll all be picking grapes in the very same field - at least those who aren't fortunate enough to get the better-paying, underpaid jobs, as cannon fodder for the military.

That brings us to this latest race for the late Ted Kennedy's seat in the senate. Even after all of the pain, mayhem, and corruption that the Republican Party has brought upon the American people over the past decade, Massachusetts, one of the most Democratic states in the union, has handed the seat of the Democratic Lion of the Senate over to a Republican, Scott Brown. Then, if that's not bad enough, since it has a direct impact on healthcare reform (Sen. Kennedy's lifelong passion),  they've slapped the memory of Ted Kennedy directly in the face in the process.

The results of that election was not only horrific, but an absolute disgrace. But at the same time, it serves perfectly to demonstrate the perfection of the corporate strategy of disinformation, the electronic programming of our minds, and the undermining of the American educational system. But if liberals and progressives would stop trying to rationalize this election away and recognize it for what it is, it could serve as a blessing in disguise.

The Democrats can spin the Massachusetts loss any way they like - they can attribute it to local politics, a bad campaign, or a bad candidate. But the bottom line is, the Democrats lost the Massachusetts election because they failed to turn out their base, and the reason for that is, they haven't given the Democratic base any reason to turn out.

Liberals have to realize that they can't simply sit around waiting for a political Messiah - WE are the Messiah. As Benjamin Franklin pointed out, "God helps those who help themselves (No, it's not in the Bible)."  Yet, instead of remaining focused on the issues, many on the left are arguing over whether or not criticizing President Obama for failing to address a given issue might be serving to help the Republicans.  Those who make that argument seem to forget that the president works for us, not the reverse, and if he wants to serve himself well, and get from point A to point B,  he'd better jump onboard OUR train, since the only transportation he has is what we give him.

It's the people's job to remain focused on the issues that we want addressed. That's the way it works. American politics is designed to allow the people to promote the policies that they desire. We then tell the politicians what WE want. The politician then goes on to promote his career by effectively establishing and/or addressing those policies to OUR satisfaction.  When the people fail to ensure that concept is firmly established, you get a Joe Lieberman.

Sure, we want our favorite politicians to remain viable, but that's up to them, based on how well they addresses our issues.  Thus, they exist for us, not the reverse.  After all, what good does any politician do us if he or she is ignoring our agenda. The Republicans understand that. That's why they have control over their representatives - no Liebercrats over there. But the Democrats still seem to be having a problem with this concept, and that's why they're losing their base.

So while I greatly admire Obama, and I'm very proud to have him as our president, I never allow myself to forget that he is also an employee - and neither should any other Democrat. When America voted him into office, we voted for CHANGE; a new direction. And considering what we had previously, by definition, that meant, a progressive agenda that entailed a strict adherence to the rule of law and equal justice for all.

But the fact is - even though Obama may have saved the world from another Great Depression, which I'm sure all sane people appreciate immensely - change is not what I see. When President Obama announced that he wanted to "look forward instead of backward" with regard to addressing the issue of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and maimed by the Bush Administration and our corporatocracy, that didn't indicate change. That shouted, "business as usual!" - and that concerns me greatly.

That was a defining moment in his presidency. It was a point where he may not have lost, but greatly alienated, a huge segment of his base - and I'm convinced that it contributed greatly to the Democratic base failing to turn out in the Massachusetts election. They've lost their hope for change, and along with that, that enthusiasm that brought tears to the eyes of people all over the world during his inauguration.

While the economy and healthcare reform are very important issues in the immediate political environment, those issues will be dealt with in due course. But the rule of law, and the concept that NO ONE in America is above the law, goes directly to the heart of what this country represents.  That concept determines what kind of nation America is going to be - FOREVER.  And history will reflect it, literally, as the 3 a.m. call of Obama's presidency.

And the irony is, they always seem to let these criminals off the hook "for the good of the country." If Nixon had gone to jail for Watergate, Reagan never would have committed treason by selling arms to the enemy during Iran/contra, or flooding our inner cities with drugs (which the nation is still suffering the effects of today) in order to circumvent congress' Boland amendment. And if Reagan had been jailed for those offenses, Bush never would have lied to the American people to drag us into the lawless invasion of Iraq - which ultimately led to the death and maiming of thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

And notice how each circumvention of the law has become progressively worse, and the resulting mayhem has become progressively more egregious. In the case of the Bush administration, we've gotten to the point of blatant war crimes, concentration camps, torture, a Big Brother-type spying network on Americans, a total disregard for American troops, and a direct assault on the United States Constitution. Yet, President Obama says he wants to look forward and not back?

Mr. President, I like you a lot, but even a caveman would have to question your judgment on this issue. You're a Constitutional lawyer, and surely not crazy. If we allow Bush and Cheney to get away with these horrific assaults on the American rule of law, what will the next group of scoundrels do to us? What do they have to do to us before we get the point? The Supreme Court has just outlawed democracy, and the corporations have already established a private army in Blackwater/Xe - we could literally end up having warlords in this country!

So today we suspend the rule of law to absolve Bush-Cheney, then to prosecute terrorists, then Muslims, then Black Muslims, then Black people, and then finally, poor people in general who fail to follow the "party line."

When you assured us of "change" during your campaign this was THE major issues that brought you so much enthusiastic support. But now, considering your position on this matter, many of those very same supporters are wondering what could you possibly be thinking to make you cave-in on such an important issue as war crimes.

I don't know what you're hearing from your "experts" in Washington, but I'm virtually certain that if you'd been aggressively addressing the rule of law against war crimes instead of letting Cheney thumb his nose at you on Fox News every other week, we would have elected another Democratic senator from the state of Massachusetts.

And who knows, perhaps with the application of justice and accountability, you might have even made us a little safer. Perhaps, one or two potential terrorists might have thought, "Maybe the Americans aren't 'The Great Satans' we thought they were."

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Keep America Informed - Reinstate The Fairness Doctrine


This is a revised version of a previous article that made what turned out to be an unwarranted assumption. This version doesn't assume that Americans under thirty are familiar with what The Fairness Doctrine entailed, and thus, what makes its reinstatement particularly important to them, and especially their children. 

Keep America Informed - Reinstate The Fairness Doctrine

The American news media is going to hell in a handbasket. It has become so intertwined with the corporate power structure that the only way one can get an accurate fix on what's going on in the United States is to turn to the BBC or various media outlets from other countries.

What immediately comes to mind is the way the U.S. news media jumped between the sheets with the administration during the invasion of Iraq. Instead of standing back and taking an objective look at the rationale being literally stuffed down our throats, they immediately went into cheerleader mode. They referred to it as being "embedded," when it should have been referred to it as being "in-bed-with."

The revelation of the Downing Street Memo is a case in point. The Downing Street Memo was a Top Secrete document to Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, issued on July 23, 2002. It was written by Matthew Rycroft, a foreign aide to the Prime Minister, after meeting with the Bush Administration. The document pointed out in graphic detail the Bush administration's game plan to deceive the world in order to justify its decision to invade Iraq. It pointed out that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

In short, eight months prior to the invasion of Iraq this official U.K. document indicated that Bush wanted to go after Saddam, but they were going to have to lie to justify it. The memo was leaked by the British press in 2005. But in spite of the senseless deaths of tens of thousands of innocent human beings - including our own American troops - as a direct result of this criminal deception, it's been all but ignored by the American media. They've given more coverage to Tiger Woods' sex life.

The behavior of the mainstream media during that period, and since, clearly demonstrates why it's so incumbent upon us to reinstate The Fairness Doctrine. Most Republicans, and many others in Washington, claim that TFD is an attack on free speech, but it's just the opposite. In fact, it ensures the freedom of speech of those who would indeed keep us informed, but are currently being denied equal access to the airways by media organizations like Fox News and many other news organizations that one wouldn't expect, as a result of Fox's impact on the industry.

So what's actually an attack on our freedom of speech are network news organizations using the public airways and conduits to spread lies, disinformation, or engage in omissions, that have a negative impact on society by distorting public policy, then preventing knowledgeable parties access to those same conduits to present the other side of the issue. That's exactly what Fox News specializes in for political purposes, and other media organizations follow, if not with a political motive, as a simple matter of dollars and cents.

An example of just how sucesseful the corporate interests have been in promoting their position against TFD since its demise, I broached this issue on KOS, and was attacked so severely - by liberals! - that I felt like I was addressing a Teabagger's convention. One commenter accused me of simply wanting to throw Rush Limbaugh off the air; another indicated that liberals just had to learn to compete with the conservative media. Then there was one commenter who said, "I don't want the government dictating to me what I have to see or hear." The TFD was not designed to do any of those things - it simply ensured that the American public wasn't deluged with one-sided lies and disinformation.

I saw that experience as directly substantiating my point for the need to reinstate TFD. Many young people under the age of thirty have next to no understanding of what TFD entailed, and I'm certain that's due directly to the brutal attack and near destruction of our educational system. And that's exactly what the Corporatocracy wants, massive hords of undereducated young people who have only two options - to either be forced to accept the chump-change that the corporations decide to throw their way, or have to enlist in an underpaid military to be used as cannon fodder in the corporate exploitation of the world's limited resources.

Thus, the problem with the Fairness Doctrine from the point of view of the corporatocracy are two - it served to contradict their lies, and it educated the public. In fact, it wasn't until it was struck down through Republican fiat, that conservatives ran out, bought control of the nation's media (especially AM radio stations), fired the liberals, and all of this craziness and disinformation started.

During the sixties and seventies there were highly informative, C-Span-like, talk shows all over the radio and television dial. Some were more conservative leaning, and others leaned more to the left - and no, the government wasn't always looking over their shoulder. The broadcasters avoided being challenged as biased by always having one conservative and one liberal on the show together debating the issues. Or if a show had a liberal on one day, they'd have a conservative on the next.

The hosts were perfectly free to be openly liberal or conservative - and they indeed were. Their political orientation would be revealed through how vigorously they interviewed the guests that they interviewed. But on the other hand, a host could be assured that if he claimed that healthcare reform created death panels, he'd be challenged by someone on the opposing side of the issue demanding equal time to present their point of view. The challenger was generally an expert on the issue under discussion, and would explain the rationale that led to the claim of death panels, and why that rationale was in error, or misleading.

The only time the government got involved was if the broadcaster denied the challenger equal time. In which case, the challenger would document his or her case and bring the issue before the Federal Communications Commission. No one had to prove who was right or wrong on the policy issue itself. All the challenger had to prove was that only one side of the issue was presented, and if the broadcaster had continuous problems in this area, various organizations would document the problem and come forward to challenge the broadcaster's license.

The Fairness Doctrine was close to a perfect solution to prevent the nation from being deluged with propaganda. The American people have just as much right to know the facts about what's being fed into the minds of our children as we do what's going into the food that we eat, and TFD ensures just that. It allowed interested parties equal time to correct the record when licensed broadcasters abused the public airways, and other broadcasting conduits, to distort the facts regarding public policy.

The issue has now been further complicated, however, with the advent of new technology such as satellite and cable systems. Now, even with TFD in place, a determined rogue organization can try to circumvent it by beaming into our homes from outside our borders, so in addition to reinstating TFD, new laws need to be put into place to specifically address the issue of intent.

If it is clearly the intent of an organization to beam disinformation into America's homes from outside our borders to circumvent TFD to negatively impact public policy, there should be legal sanctions. If the organization is found to be domestic in origin, severe legal or regulatory action should be taken. If it is a foreign organization that's purposely trying to distort the facts on U.S. domestic policy, it should be given a choice - either adhere to the precepts of TFD, or be deprived access to the American market.

So, should the internet be regulated as well?

In a word, no. The internet falls into an entirely different category than broadcasting. The internet falls into the same category as books, newspapers, and magazines. Essentially, it's an electronic publication. On the internet one has to actively seek out disinformation if one wants it, and that's the user's right. But the broadcasting industry is so powerfully pervasive that the public can be inadvertently subjected to harmful disinformation on public policy.

In addition, since our educational system is under such a brutal attack, responsible broadcasters should be rewarded with generous tax incentives to incorporate entertaining educational content into their schedules. Knowledge, presented in a creative and insightful way can be just as entertaining, in fact, even more entertaining, than violence, corruption, and decadence.

Any good story involves people overcoming adversity. Why does that have to be with a gun? Millions of people across this country show what they're made of by dealing with adversity of every kind on a daily basis, yet, only a small minority of them address those issues with a gun, or violence of any kind. Why can't we show their stories? Why can't we show our young men that it takes more manhood to raise a child than rob a bank?

All one has to do is turn on the television and read the programming descriptions to understand why we're faced with so much turmoil in this country - and I can't help but think it's by design. We need to get a handle on our broadcasting industry, and the very first step in that direction should be to reinstate TFD in order to tear the megaphone from the hands of big business.

The one thing that corporations have a healthy respect for is the dollar. Thus, the very best thing about TFD is it gives the networks an economic incentive to be balanced - or at least, not tell blantant lies. If FOX News had to give equal air time for rebuttal every time Glenn Beck told a lie, it would be cost prohibitive. They wouldn't have any time left for commercials, so they'd be forced to be a responsible broadcaster.

So we need to address this issue immediately, while we still have a country. Because as long as we fail to address this matter, we're giving carte blanche to the most greedy and corrupt among us. We've handed over full control of our news media, and thereby, public policy.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Conservative Corruption of Progressive Thought


The Conservative Corruption of Progressive Thought

As one who has always tried, with varying success, to be progressive in my thinking, I'd like to make a few personal observations on the contemporary progressive movement. I want to preface my remarks, however, with the assurance that I have long since recognized that I corner the market on neither knowledge, wisdom, nor intellect, but I'd like to share my thoughts nevertheless - not as a condescending edict handed down by a self-appointed pundit, but in the hope that the thoughts of an average man with common facility are worthy of public discussion.

It is my firm belief that the appropriate attitude for a progressive to bring to every discussion is a firmness of thought and an open mind to divergent ideas. A progressive, by definition, should have the intellectual capacity to recognize that one can neither scream, nor insult, one's way to a solution to any problem. And what should always set a progressive apart from all others is an affinity for humanity, independence of thought, and a fierce determination to remain a seeker of truth above all else, regardless to where that truth may lead.

But those values no longer seem to be the case among many who define themselves as progressives today. Many contemporary 'progressives' tend to possess the very same rigidity of thought, and meanspirited, knee-jerk adherence to ideology that the progressive movement was created to combat. The response that many of these people bring to even the slightest divergence from their rigid ideological beliefs can only be described as one of radical reactionism.

That concerns me greatly, because while conservatives and today's so-called progressives remain completely divergent in their views toward governance, in terms of intellectual disposition they've become different sides of the same coin. I've often heard it stated that the regimented intolerance of reactionary conservatism is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. That may, or may not be true. But if it is, it must also be acknowledged that the intolerant regimentation of many contemporary radical 'progressives' represent the USSR at best.

Many modern progressives have allowed themselves to become infected with the exact same kind of intellectual rigidity that we previously associated with the radical conservative mindset. In fact, many who define themselves as progress today could very accurately be called latter-day conservatives. They have a slightly updated set of values, but their rigidity and rabid defense of those values will surely morph into the closed-minded conservatism of tomorrow.

That's the primary reason that the conservatives' reckless campaign of rampant disinformation is winning the battle over reasoned and logical thought. So many contemporary progressives have taken on the conservative mindset of anger before contemplation, and reaction over reason, that there's no one left who's actually thinking. Everyone is simply reacting through anger, ignorance, and disinformation. That's an environment in which the Republican Party thrives, since as any thinking person would know, radical conservatism is reactionary by definition.

Progressives cannot out-scream the Republican Party, and we shouldn't try. The disinformation that's currently being disseminated by the GOP must be met with facts, a well thought-out plan of action, integrity, and character.

The American people are not stupid. They desperately want these qualities in their governance, but the current progressive movement is not giving them a viable alternative. Regardless to what our intent, we're acting with just as much thoughtless anger and reckless abandon as the Republican Party.

The problem is, we have not coalesced into a solid front with a clear and viable agenda. We've divided ourselves into so many factions with so many different agendas that the people no longer know what we represent. And the reason for that is that too many of us really don't know what it means to be progressives ourselves.

Too many of us fail to understand that the primary goal of the progressive movement is to create a viable democracy that serve, respect, and honor ALL of the people. But due to the destruction of our educational system, the corrupting influence of Republican governance over the past twenty years, and an irresponsible media, our ideals and what we represent as a people is only a rumor up for debate for an entire generation of Americans.

But what's worse, and the subject of this contemplation, is the above is also true of young people of the left who consider themselves progressives. The fact is, while they know that their political orientation is liberal, what they don't know is there's a vast difference between being simply liberal, and being a progressive. As a result, many of these young people approach our democracy like it's a sporting event - our team against their team. Period.

What they fail to realize is that the progressive movement is much more than just a synonym for left-wing liberalism. Progressives have also served as America's philosophers, intellectuals, and conscience. Thus, true progressives don't see conservatives as the enemy. They understand that both liberals, and conservatives, play an important role in our society. They recognize that both are necessary in order to maintain a balanced America. And they clearly understand that while there's a burning need for a Martin Luther King to remind America of its humanity, there is also a need for a Gen. MacArthur to ensure our security.

Thus, the progressive movement is not so much a political ideology as it is a philosophical attitude towards human behavior. A true progressive, as oppose to an ideologue of any stripe, will always give truth, logical thought, and the interest of humanity priority over ideology. And regardless to how much he or she may admire any politician, he will always hold that politician accountable for truth, justice, and his fidelity to mankind.

I can cite an example of that in my personal life. I'm a huge supporter of President Obama because I agree with more of his positions on public policy than I do with the Republicans. But I have both friends, and family, who go absolutely crazy on those occasions when I write a column critical of him when I disagree with something that he does, or something that he fails to do. They take the position that I'm only serving to help the Republican Party drag him down.

I take the position, as both a journalist, and a progressive, that while I support Obama, it is not my job to censor information when in my opinion he's taken a position that's not in the best interest of the people (failing to follow the rule of law regarding the atrocities of war committed by the Bush Administration, for example). Neither is it my job to protect Obama's presidency. It is Obama's job to protect his presidency, by making the right decisions in office.

Barack Obama is a politician, and a democracy can only remain viable by holding EVERY politician's feet to the fire. So it doesn't matter how I feel about him personally, as a journalist, and as a progressive, all I'm concerned with is what he does to, or for the people.

In my opinion, that's what it means to be a progressive, and I find it extremely disheartening to watch the corruption of such an essential component of our political environment. What's even more disheartening, however, is the impact that it's loss is sure to have on American life. With the demise of a vigorous and thriving progressive movement America is becoming a place where power and political ideology takes precedence over justice and the welfare of humanity, and that's a scenario that can only lead to our ultimate destruction.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Gross Hypocrisy: The Greatest Threat to American Security


Gross Hypocrisy: The Greatest Threat to American Security

As the mainstream media continues to engage in its endless distraction over Senator Harry Reid stating the ridiculously obvious, New York's Black Star News is running an otherwise completely overlooked little story about the firing of Eric Amankwah, a 28-year-old Ghanian, by Delta Airlines for reporting a serious breach of security.

Amanakwah alleges that on January 2, a mere eight days after the Christmas Day attempt on Flight 253 over Detroit, he was instructed by his supervisor, Yvonne Green, to circumvent JFK security and deliver an unattended suitcase to an out-going flight without inspection. When he protested over the breach of security, he was advised by Ms. Green that he shouldn't worry about it. It was done routinely. If the suitcase missed its connection Delta Airlines would be fined.

After carrying out Green's instructions, when Amanakwah returned Green was waiting for him with a second supervisor, Mohammad Taj, to which Ms. Green reported, "Eric completed the job." Taj then said, "Good," then left.

According to the Black Star article by Milton Allimadi, after discussing the matter with other Delta employees, Mr. Amanakwah began to have second thoughts about what he had been instructed to do, so he sent an e-mail up Delta Airline's chain of command, including one to Delta's CEO, Richard H. Anderson, expressing his concern over the matter. The following Tuesday he was fired.

Black Star News followed up on the story by publishing a request for any other airline employees with similar stories of security breaches to come forward. In response they were contacted by Ms. Mary Stewart-Joyce. She indicated that she was hired by Delta Airlines on May 8, 1997. She goes on to say:

"After completion of the new hire training I was assigned to the Federal Inspections Area at JFK. The lead supervisors were Mavis Thomas, Joseline Lucas, Alix Laincy and Danny Cronin: Mr. Cronin was my assigned supervisor.

"I was not signed up for the Port Authority security class and therefore was forced to work in FIS without the proper Port ID pass. This was a violation of Federal Law. I was told to turn my building access swipe card around and to wear it lengthwise behind my Delta ID so that it would 'look' as if I had a port ID."

Ms. Joyce indicated that she was finally sought out and detained by the customs office for failing to have the proper I.D. She was informed by the customs officer that they were told to find her on the floor and hold her so that Delta Airlines could be fined for breaching security. Later she was informed by a customs supervisor that he was the one who had ordered her picked up and held because he was "sick of Delta's total disregard for security."

Ms. Joyce goes on to relate other breaches by Delta Airlines. She says that she knew many of the things that she was instructed to do were a breach of security, but there was very little that she could do about it, because as a single mother, she feared termination. But at this point, she says, she's not only willing to come forward, but sign a deposition.

As dangerous as this kind of irresponsible behavior is to the flying public, the arrogance of corporate, social, and political entitlement represent a much greater danger to America as a whole. Gross hypocrisy and the entitlement of power have become indelibly ingrained in the very fabric of America. That makes lying, deceit, and the routine manipulaion of the American people just a simply matter of doing  business, by both corporations and government alike.

What's in the best interest of the American people has become secondary to the corporate pursuit of the dollar.  This fact is clearly demonstrated by this multi billion-dollar airline's willingness to put the lives of its passengers in jeopardy just to avoid a fine that amounts to pennies. And many of the government officials that we depend on to protect us are just as corrupt. Washington has become filled with politicians elected to represent the people, who have become nothing short of government-paid lobbyists for big business - Joe Lieberman is an obvious case in point. He's willing to throw 67% of his constituents under the bus for his own personal gain.

So while Al Qaeda undoubtedly poses a threat to America, it doesn't come close to the threat posed  by the corruption, self-service, and total disregard of American ideals by the ever-growing bunch of demagogues that we've casually allowed to gain control of our lives - and even as I write this sentence it's becoming progressively worse. They've seized control of the media, virtually destroyed our educational system, and have left us all but helpless to even grasp what's happening to us.

America needs to understand that the time to become actively engaged in our own welfare has all but passed. We're already waste-deep in a class war. Hyperbole? Just take a moment to consider how far we've declined since WWII.

They tell us we're involved in a "war on terror."  But who's fighting that war, and making all of the sacrifices? When America went to war during WWII, all of America was at war - the rich and poor, Black and White, young and old. But now, the only ones sacrificing for this so-called "war on terror" are the poor and middle-class. The rich hopes it goes on forever, because they're benefitting from it greatly.

Then they tell us, "Oh, no! It only looks unfair. The difference between now and WWII is that now we have a 'volunteer military'."

'Volunteer military?'  Let's take a look at that: Our so-called 'volunteers' are made up of poor and middle-class young people who are there in lieu of a job so they can try to get an education, or feed and insure their young families. One volunteers as an act of patriotism, not as an attempt to survive.

Clear evidence of my contention is the enlistment rate of the rich. If our 'volunteer military' is indeed built upon patiotism, the children of the rich certainly can't have much love for America, because they're volunteering in piss-poor numbers. As a direct result of the poor enlistment rate of the rich and privileged, our troops have to take up the slack by placing their lives on the line for two, three, and four tours of combat duty - then these very same slackers are reluctant, and even resistant, to enhance military benefits, even as they pay the personnel of their contractor cronies three and four times what they pay our troops.

Thus, calling our troops 'volunteers' is no more accurate than calling your trash man a volunteer. He didn't volunteer to collect the trash. He's doing the very same thing as our brave troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, simply trying to feed his family. He just doesn't have to die to do it.

So America needs to wake up before it's too late. We're no longer living in the America we once knew. We're not safe; we can no longer trust what's in our food and water; our young people are being taught that it's 'un-American' to put family before corporate profit; and the country is brimming over with demagogues, tycoons, and self-serving politicians having wet dreams over the prospect of personal windfall - in both money and power - of another attack on America.

There's a reason why Cheney continues to insist that President Obama say "War" when he mentions terror -  because "war" means money.


I was contacted by Ms. Mary Stewart-Joyce regarding this story. She indicated that she wasn't actually detained by the customs officer for not having the proper I.D. She was warned by the official that they had been instructed to locate her on the floor without the proper I.D. so Delta Airlines could be fined. Thereafter, she took it upon herself to sit out the remainder of her shift in the Arrival Control Office.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

GOP: Well, You Can't Say That You weren't Warned


GOP: Well, You Can't Say That You weren't Warned

Well, GOP, I hate to tell you I told you so, but it looks like you're attempt at political manipulation have finally come back to bite you - and it couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch.

Immediately after the election of Michael Steele as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I pointed out in my article, Republicans: "Look Y'all - We Got Us One Too", that The RNC ploy to elect Steele as the first African American chairman in its 153 year history was not only grossly transparent, but was going to backfire in a very big way - and I was so right on target with that prediction that the RNC should hire me as chief consultant against Republican stupidity.

The very first thing I pointed out in the article was that you elected Michael Steele chairman of the RNC for all the wrong reasons. I indicated that "anyone with an ounce of sense can see that this is a gimmick. Republicans were defeated so badly in the last election, and Obama is so popular, that they figure Black must be the political flavor of the season, so they went out and "got them one" – it didn't matter who, just long as his skin was dark. But again, they're so politically jaded that they're completely out of touch with the American people."

I then went on to pointed out that "the American people didn't elect President Obama because he's Black - they elected him because he demonstrated that he was an intelligent and competent statesman." In addition, "He was also elected so overwhelmingly because for the past eight years the Republican Party has clearly demonstrated that it was overflowing with corruption, incompetence, and greed . So while it's hard for the RNC to believe, for the very first time, we've had an election that was based strictly on the issues and relative competence, and not race" - which seems to be a point that still hasn't struck home with the Republican Party.

The RNC also turned a deaf ear to the suggestion that "if part of the Republican calculation was that by making a Black man head of the Republican Party it was going to help their numbers in the Black community, they're going to be sadly disappointed –in fact, they've hurt the Republican brand even more." The fact is, "If they'd ever taken the time to truly get to know the Black community, they would have known that the only thing more toxic to Black people than a flat-out racist, is a Black conservative, with the notable exception of Colin Powell – because we suspect he's not truly conservative [at least by today's definition], simply loyal" to those who helped to promote his career.

What has contributed greatly to the Michael Steele disaster, and many other problems within the Republican Party is the unmitigated arrogance of their leadership. Many Republican leaders confuse economics, social status, and ivy league diplomas with intelligence. They equate the quality of one's life and social standing with the quality of one's intellect. They fail to realize that there's a vast difference between the two. That's why they're rapidly becoming a regional party. They so greatly underestimate the intelligence of the American people, that it's gotten to the point where the only people they appeal to are the minority of Americans who are indeed ignorant. Thus, their entire platform has become one of lending comfort to the uninformed.

They fail to recognize that intelligence is not limited to the upper class. Nor do they seem to understand that social stature and the ability to obtain an ivy league diploma means nothing more than one has the resources to purchase a seat in an environment where knowledge is available.  Intelligence entails much more than regurgitating information by rote in a rarified environment with ivy growing up the walls. Granted, there are many brilliant professors at Harvard, Yale, and many of our other universities, but brilliance isn't transmitted through osmosis.  If one is committed to learning there is just as much knowledge to be absorbed on google or the corner library as there is at Harvard.

Thus, while these institutions of higher learning can, and do, confer diplomas, no institution in the world can confer common sense, wisdom, nor intelligence. These are qualites that are distributed equally throughout the population, so these Republican leaders need to recognize that they're making a serious error in thinking they can look soberly into the camera and begin to hemorrage their lies and disinformation upon the American people. It is, in fact, only they're own arrogance and stupidity that allow them to assume that they corner the market on intelligence

Clear evidence of that is the fact that the RNC, with all of it's experts, "political savvy", and think tanks, was completely oblivious to a fact that their attempt to push Michael Steele down America's throat as a Black clone of President Obama was the height of stupidity. It takes much more than black skin to create a Barack Obama. Any high school kid in any ghetto in America could have told them that - in spite of their atrocious educational environment.

Many of these academically deprived young people would have had the innate intelligence to inform the RNC exactly what I did:

"Most Black people have very little use for Black conservatives. It's not that we disagree with everything they say, but because we're suspect of the reasons they're saying it. Without exception, every Black conservative I've come across is an opportunist. Their conservatism tends not to be so much grounded in their actual philosophy as it is an opportunity to gain exposure. They realize that conservatives are looking high and low for Black people who will step forward to validate [Republican] views towards the Black community, so they gleefully allow themselves to be used in return for personal wealth, position, and notoriety."

So as we in the Black community sit back and watch the Republican Party struggle with this Michael Steel disaster, for once, we're having the last laugh - and believe me, the entire Black community is rolling in the isles. Because, you see, as "uneducated and politically unsophisticated" as we are, we had more than enough common sense and, yes, intelligence, to know what you were getting. So we're loving it, and hope it continues for months on end. Just this once, we've lived to see Uncle-Tomism work to our advantage. And even beyond that, we now have prima facie evidence of your unmitigated stupidity.

As I pointed out in my earlier article, "Black people have suffered a long history of such people [as michael Steele], going all the way back to slavery. These were the very same people who would informed on slaves who were trying to escape to freedom: 'I don't know what's wrong wit him, boss. Ya jest can't get him to appreciate nothin' you do for us. What he needs is a real good beatin'. Want me to do it?'" But this time, due to your clumsy attempt at political manipulation, you're stuck with him.

What did he tell you? "Either fire me, or shut up!"

Don't think he didn't get a kick out of that.  Even as an Uncle Tom (Yeah, I said it), he's more than cognizant of our history of having to lick the "master's" boots. So now that he's got you by the short-hairs, he wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to tell you to kiss his ass - his Black ass - and that's exactly what he did. And the beauty of it is, you're gonna have to do it - publically. That's what happens when you lie down with dogs.  Next time have your "think tanks" consult any Black kid over twelve.

So next to the election of President Barack Obama, hearing that statement come from the lips of a turncoat to his master was the most delightful moment of my political life. It's nothing short of poetic justice.

While it's generally not my nature to gloat, watching the Republican Party - THE GREAT MANIPULATOR - being played like a two dollar whore by a third rate tennis shoe pimp, strips me of all pretense of social propriety. And here's the great part - it doesn't matter who wins or loses, whether the RNC or Michael Steele.  Regardless to how it turns out, we win.

It's a situation so perfect in it's design, it simply has to be an act of God.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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